Greece: Meteora, For Your Eyes Too

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By Jen

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You might have seen Meteora in a James Bond film. James ascends the cliff at the end and throws the decoder over the side, in For Your Eyes Only. It’s a STUNNING location. Possibly the most dramatic site for a building I’ve ever seen.

Meteora means “suspended in the sky”. And that’s exactly where a group of about 25 little monasteries are. The peaks of incredible rock formations have mini and not so mini monasteries balanced on them, with views to die for.

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History

These weird cliffs were created by earthquakes 60 million years ago, and they are more than 400 metres high. The monasteries were built in the 14th and 15th centuries, and the high towers protected the monks from political upheaval at the time. Four of the monasteries are still occupied. As far as I know, only one lonely wee monk lives in the Holy Trinity (James Bond) monastery. Although he may not be lonely and he may be huge.

This is the one we headed to first. Visitors can scale the steps cut into the cliff side to reach the church at the top. Women need to cover shoulders and knees.

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There’s a cable car type thing – presumably for less able monks or supplies – it didn’t look to be open to visitors. The monastery is accessible, however, but times are restricted, so check before you go. The ascent is free, a visit inside the church and to the gardens/rocks behind is 3 euros for an adult.

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The view is spectacular. Although, to be honest, the view OF the monastery from afar is just as amazing. You don’t really want to be scared of heights. Katie was a real trouper making it to the top because she’s a bit scared of heights. I would have quite fancied abseiling down.

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We then visited Agios Stephano, on the same road, just round the corner. We didn’t go in, just took pictures from a distance of the monastery and the tiny stone bridge you need to cross to enter it.

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The rest of the afternoon we spent driving along the tiny roads joining up the other monasteries and taking in the incredible views. We stopped – a LOT – to take pictures.

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The little town of Kalambaka at the foot of the cliffs is a pretty place to stop to eat, have a coffee or buy a cake. It’s well used to tourists from around the world visiting these amazing constructions. There are also free wifi hotspots around the town. We were there early April – warm days, cool nights, not too many tourists. I imagine the little roads would be really busy in summer. There were already quite a few tour buses.

We parked our campervan overnight at Hotel Arsenis, literally on the doorstep of the monastery trail. There’s a separate blog post with details, but here’s their web address –
www.arsenis-meteora.gr

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